5 tips on buying a rug

I've been thinking about my rug dilemma, and it brought up a core concept I really enjoy incorporating into my blog:
The most interesting posts are not those written with absolute certainty, but those topics about which you are uncertain. That leaves room for dialogue, and everyone, writer and readers, on more equal ground, opening up the topic for discussion.
I just love having peer to peer interaction on Hue. More than anything, I've wanted to develop a community of color-fanatics with whom I can share what I know and discover, as well as learn from all my readers. After all, what fun is living in a bubble.

This brings me back to the complications of finding the PERFECT rug to fit my new purple couches. There are just SO many options out there, it's quite overwhelming. Luckily, I have at my fingertips some amazing resources: my readership! 

There is so much more involved in selecting a rug than I ever realized. It's more than just finding the perfect color palette and design. Rug construction is often an after-thought; but it dictates quality, durability, price, and value. I wanted to post a few factors I've learned along the way.

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1.) buy the best quality you can afford. As AtticMag's Jane Tulanian (fellow blogger and rug guru) suggests, contrary to the popular mindset of not wanting to spend much $$ on a rug because the animals/kids might ruin it, if you get a good quality hand-knotted (not tufted!) wool rug, it will last for generations.

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2.) Be sure to check the materials. There are many Natural fibers that, for a start, include silk, cotton, flax, ALLO, or wool. Whereas Synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester, and acrylic.  Jane also advises that rugs made of polypropylene (recycled plastics) are impervious to staining and can even be hosed down. That makes them especially great for outdoor use. The fibers won’t stain, dyes don’t bleed and unlike many natural fiber rugs, they aren’t scratchy on bare feet. Wool has some inherent stain-resist qualities also. The more lanolin, as in Himalayan wool, the better. In fact with a high quality Tibetan rug made of Himalayan wool, the luster only increases with use and 'proper care'.  
This is a huge topic that really deserves a dedicated post all by itself!

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3.) A busy pattern hides stains and dirt better than large areas of solid color. Barbara Jacobs of Integral Color, a color expert and rug designer, gives us another option.

For a solid-color look with a more interesting and 'forgiving' appearance that just "solid," look for a dye technique called "abrash" or a weaving technique called "tweeding", that can, depending on the color, have the overall look of a solid but be more interesting. Think, "pointillism" in art work. It's sort of like a color-pattern rather than a patterned design motif. There are other options also, if you get into a custom piece.

4.) Look for certified child-labor-free labels.  Formerly known as RugMark, the new GoodWeave label assures that no children under age 14 were employed by the facility responsible for making the labeled rug. It's good to know where something is made, and who is making it.

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5.) Educate yourself about the different ways rugs are constructed so that you know what you are getting

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Things to consider:

What's the process / technique of weaving (machine-made, hand-hooked, hand-tufted, hand-knotted, a flat weave, braided?)

Pile depth (Think flat weave all the way up to shag. Okay, so that's a bit extreme. Typical is around 4mm for low pile to or more for a little thicker rug. Lower knot count will result in a thicker rug.)

Barbara explains knot count. As long as we're dealing with high quality rugs, knot count is about the 'look"rather than simply what's a "better" rug. It's about the preferred thickness, pile height, and the design 'resolution."  Most rugs range from 50 to 150 knots per square inch. Think of it this way: knots are like pixels. Lower dpi will have lower res in the details. So, in a rug that has a less detailed and more informal look, even 50 knots is fine.

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Barbara's design on the left is 50 knots whereas the example on the right, virtually the same design, is 100 knots.  You can see that the edges of the right design areas are 'sharper' and more crisp; the lines are thinner, too.

As I am quickly discovering, this is just the tip of the iceberg. So much for just browsing the web, looking at a pretty picture, and declaring, "That's the one. I'll take it!"

More rug construction definitions
Pets and Carpets
Many thanks to Barbara and Jane for their extensive rug knowledge!